Patagonia, REI Co-Op and Timberland Won’t Attend Outdoor Retailer in Utah

Update: March 24, 2022 at 5:45 p.m. ET

Timberland, another company that showed support in The Conservation Alliance’s letter last month, has responded to Outdoor Retailer’s decision to move the trade show to Utah.

“Timberland is disappointed with the decision to move the Outdoor Retailer show back to Utah, and we remain firm in our decision not to attend, as we expressed last month by joining the Conservation Alliance’s letter. We are confident that we can successfully conduct business in ways that better align with our outdoor heritage and mission to build a more green and equitable future,” the brand said in a statement emailed to FN.

What We Originally Reported on March 24, 2022

Outdoor Retailer announced yesterday its decision to return to Utah, a month after several industry giants stated they would not attend the trade show if it returned to the state. Today, some of those same companies are speaking out about the move.

In a statement emailed to FN, REI Co-op EVP and chief customer officer Ben Steele expressed the retail giant’s disappointment in the decision by event OR event owner and operator Emerald X to move the trade show back to Utah in January 2023.

“Utah’s elected officials have repeatedly refused to protect — and are actively working to undermine — duly designated national monuments and natural treasures, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. As we made clear in February, REI will not participate in any OR trade show in the state so long as Utah’s leaders persist in attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them. We remain committed to our employees, members, vendors and communities in the state,” Steele’s statement read. “The co-op is unwavering in our commitment to public lands — the mountains, deserts, prairies, waters and forests that tens of millions of Americans from all backgrounds cherish and enjoy annually. We recognize and maintain solidarity with the Native American communities who have stewarded these lands for generations and continue to lead the campaign for their protection. We hope Emerald will reconsider the host site of Outdoor Retailer in the future.”

Patagonia took to Twitter to announce its disappointment in the move.

We remain steadfast in our position and won’t return to Outdoor Retailer in Utah unless the state’s leaders abandon their legal threats seeking to roll back protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments,” the brand wrote on the social media platform. 

In February, The Conservation Alliance released a statement urging Emerald X not to move the event to Utah. In the statement, The Conservation Alliance — with the support of 24 market-leading companies — said, “We’ve joined together in stating that we will not support or attend a trade show event in Utah so long as its elected officials continue attacks on national monuments and public lands protections.”

The Conservation Alliance called out Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in its statement for “moving to strip these magnificent lands of federal protection — while simultaneously attempting to woo Emerald to move the Outdoor Retailer trade show from Denver to Salt Lake City.” (Cox released a video in September 2021 urging Outdoor Retailer to return.)

In addition to REI Co-op and Patagonia, other major names aligned with The Conservation Alliance’s statement include Public Lands, The North Face, Keen, Oboz, Scarpa, Smartwool, Timberland, La Sportiva, Arc’teryx and others.

FN has reached out to the other companies that supported The Conservation Alliance’s letter for comment.

Yesterday, OR announced the controversial move of having Utah as its home once again.

“After much deliberation and input from all sides, we’ve decided the best move for Outdoor Retailer is to return to our basecamp. We’re heading back to Salt Lake City and County to the place we grew up and where our industry matured into the dynamic and powerful community it is today,” the trade show announced today in a statement released yesterday. “Moving forward, Outdoor Retailer will bring the community together in January and June at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center.”

Salt Lake City was the host of the trade show for 22 years, but organizers announced in July 2017 that it was moving the expo to Denver, a decision that largely stemmed from a disagreement over public land protection.

Is your company boycotting Outdoor Retailer? Or will you continue to attend? Email Peter Verry at pverry@footwearnews.com.

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